The Compleat Angler

The Compleat Angler was The Folio Society’s fifteenth book. It was published by The Society in 1949. The first ever edition dates back to the mid 17th century.

Much beloved by fishermen, fisherwomen and natural history enthusiasts, I must confess that I found it tiresome and failed to complete the reading. I can see that some may feel some charm in the book, but alas, I’m not one. Piscatorial philosophising is not one of my passions.

Whatever my feelings, it is a remarkable book for the times.

The Book

Composed in 12 pt Caslon Old Face type, and printed and bound by Mackay of Chatham. The book was issued with a dustjacket. My copy lacks this.

The Society has republished this book from time to time over the years

Despite my inability to finish the book, I can see that it not just a book about fishing, it’s a book about fishing being a way of life. It may be best a book dipped into, rather than being read cover to cover.
The Author

Izaak Walton was born in 1593 and lived to the age of 90. From the age of 50 he retreated to the countryside where he enjoyed the art of fishing and convivial company.

Although best known for The Compleat Angler, Walton also wrote short biographies, principally of his friends.

Here is a brief biography.

The Illustrator

This was the first book that Lynton Lamb illustrated for The Society. It was not the last, and the association continued until 1974. Lamb was a prolific artist in many fields. He designed many English stamps, and also designed the binding for the Coronation Bible for Queen Elizabeth II. He died in 1977 at the age of 70.

The Illustrations

There are 28 illustrations in the book. In Folio 21, Charles Ede commented “Perhaps, the highest compliment to the artist is the fact that these drawings, though free and impressionistic, still satisfied anglers of the most conservative complexion”

From chapter VIII. “Observations of the Luce, or Pike; with directions how to fish for him”

Chapter XI “Observations of the Tench”

Chapter XX “Of Fish-Ponds, and how to order them”

Part Two, Chapter X “Directions how to dress a Trout or Grayling”

This is a limited selection of Lamb’s illustrations for the book. I think that they are successful!

Moving On

Recently read Pinocchio, also The Darling Buds of May, and Good Behaviour.  Of the older books, next on the list is Arabian Love Tales